Friday, June 30, 2006

Can you stop the beat?

I could use this time to discuss the brilliance of Eileen Atkins or the ridiculousness of Encores! doing Follies (which I may focus on in a later post, if I have not gotten over it), but instead I want to take this post to address the rumors of Hairspray's possible demise. These rumors have been around for awhile and a recent Michael Riedel column fanned the flames. Could Hairspray possibly close this winter? Of course it could, but, at this point, I do not think it will. Is this me being crazy? Umm.... Well, I've been called worse, but this time I actually do have a sane argument.

By mid-September, when people expect things to get tough, Hairspray's cast will include Diana DeGarmo, Haylie Duff, Tevin Campbell and Darlene Love. Is that campy enough to warrant a return visit or what? I mean, honestly, I believe the Diana/Haylie factor will bring people in. I know many people don't understand that Haylie Duff is famous and I'm not saying she is Hilary or anything, but she has some fans of her own and she has a name people recognize. She'll push her stint well and so will Hilary, as is already evident. I was talking to my cousins--girls age 11 and 16--and they totally got excited by the Diana/Haylie power combo. If other tourists feel similarly, the fall could be perfectly fine for Hairspray and, thus, the show could weather the winter (even if there are a few losing weeks). And if things aren't too dismal--why wouldn't the producers keep the show open long enough to see if the upcoming movie (scheduled for release in June 2007) helps resuscitate the box office?

Of course a big key to this is publicity. People have to know the Neil Simon is the place to bring your teen and the Duff sisters cannot do it all themselves. Hairspray happens to have the genius publicist Richard Kornberg (he's truly a wonder) on its team and, when Diana was in previously, he really pushed her hard. No matter what people called the Kornberg office about, he changed the topic to Degarmo. And the amazing thing about Richard is it is sort of hard to dismiss him--he gets people to stay on the phone and he keeps throwing things out. If he does the same for Duff (which I have to imagine he will), at least we know people who read entertainment stories or listen to the radio talk shows will know she is in it. Ideally the Hairspray team will also invest in some advertising because the best promotion is really constant Times ads, posters, radio spots and television tauting the cast. Now I know neither of the ladies I'm discussing has a gigantic role--doesn't matter at all. It just matters that they are in it.

So, in summary, if it's not promoted properly, Hairspray could indeed close, but I have complete faith in its appeal. Someday the beat will stop--I just don't personally think that day will be in 2006.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

More Thoughts on Theaters

I have just returned from Sweeney Todd. I have to say--while there are many virtues to be found in the production (I wholeheartedly support Donna Lynne Champlin in everything, I really find Lauren Molina oddly great in it, etc.), that entire revival is basically about Patti for me. (I just stared at those who asked me to go see Judy Kaye.) And she is back full force! Nevertheless, I still cannot imagine the show lasting until Thanksgiving, no matter when the genius Ms. LuPone is signed until.

OK, so I've received a few: "What about the Richard Rodgers?" emails. I didn't hate Tarzan at all, I got what I expected, but because of personal reasons I would be happy if Disney had a bomb. (Why are they such meanies? And why did they not produce my beloved Little Mermaid first?!?!) That being said, there is very, very little chance that Tarzan will go away this season. The winter will be tough--do apes hibernate? these ones may as well!--but Disney is unlikely to shut it down in January, in my opinion. Thus I'd be surprised if the Rodgers opens up in time to house one of this season's planned tuners.

I should also say, someone reminded me of how late in the fall Grey Gardens is opening and that they are making changes. It's also represented by my favorite press agent, Michael "Mikey" Borowski (who can, in his short-shorts, run through the whole Madonna concert if you ask him to), so I should be nice. With these things in mind, let me say that it could last through the season. It's in a tiny house and, while I thought Ebersole was preaching to the converted when she sat on a Pride Parade float, she probably did reach a good number of queens who didn't get in previously. If they all come and the show is tightened, who knows... I still don't think tons will come and I would be shocked if years from now we'll be watching Little Edie anywhere but on DVD (or maybe at a MOMA screening), but saying it will last only a couple of months may be selling it short. I hope you supporters are happy now.

I knew about The Grinch, but that doesn't change my Pirate Queen statement. Queen is after. And my Drowsy statement seems to have been misconstrued--I'm happy it is doing so well, I just didn't know when I saw it out-of-town that it had so wide an audience. That's it.

I would ask you all to join me tomorrow at Joe Iconis' Ars Nova show, but it's sold out. Alas.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Theaters, Theaters and More Theaters

OK, so I haven’t posted in a while. Sorry about that. Partially it’s because I haven’t been feeling full force, but it’s also due to the fact that no one has been asking me questions that needed to be answered in a forum such as this. Feel free to ask your own—that would be huge (as Don Summa would say).

That being said, in the last week I have received a series of emails asking about theater availability for the upcoming shows. So I’m going to post a little bit about that. Note that I like some of the currently running shows that we’ll be saying goodbye to, so picture me sitting here with a tear (a single one, in preparation for Cry Baby).

Vacant theaters that do not have anything officially announced are: Cort, Longacre, Palace and the Brooks Atkinson. The Belasco has something there now, Awake and Sing!, but, because it is limited, that theater will soon be vacant without an announced tenant.

Of those, the Palace is a prime musical venue, rumored for Legally Blonde. The Brooks will house the Dylan/Tharp musical The Times They Are A-Changin'.

What other theaters could be empty fairly soon? Martin Short hasn’t even started at the Jacobs yet and it will stay afloat a while, but could be out of there come winter. Same goes for Grey Gardens at the Walter Kerr. The Helen Hayes is booked with The Two and Only in the fall, but I saw that off-Broadway and I don’t give it long on. Shows that are currently running and definitely on their way out include my beloved Hot Feet at the Hilton (which seems destined for the big-budget spectacular Pirate Queen, if that turns out better than Martin Guerre) and The Lieutenant of Inishmore (which my friends support) at the Lyceum. I also sadly can’t picture The Wedding Singer lasting throughout the season (no matter how many people my mother sends to it). Additionally, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels probably drops off totally in the fall and Sweeney Todd is barely hanging on now. (Though I support both of them!) If they closed, the Imperial and the O’Neil would be vacant.

Word on the street is that The Producers may shutter at the St. James this year, but I am not holding my breath. (They could still put in a star—Lisa Rinna as Ulla anyone?!) Drowsy, this year’s little musical that could, continues to impress at the box office—I wasn’t counting on that originally and I am unsure how long it can last, but the Marquis is probably booked for the season.

I’m pretty sure that covers it. I mean there are always the Rent and Hairspray closing rumors, but I never put much stock in them. Maybe I’m missing an announced or majorly rumored housing thing? It is possible... I’m honestly only at about 44% cara, so I could be leaning towards the sloppy side. (Though star playwright Billy Finnegan corrected only one a mistake when I read this to him, so he is on it and probably close to full force.)

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Lincoln Center's Epic

Because I'm all about 2006-2007, I provide you with a question that is sure to be debated by many come mid-next season: Should The Coast of Utopia be considered one play or three?

I asked this of a few experts a couple of weeks so and the consensus was that Coast would be considered one play come Tony time. These experts cited the 2-part The Kentucky Cycle as precedent (though I'm sure there are also other examples). Back in 1994 that was nominated for Best Play as if it was a singular entity. But, here is the thing, they just announced opening dates for Coast of Utopia and the first part is opening over three months before the third (and final) part. Seriously--Part One, Voyage is opening November 5, Part Two, Shipwreck is opening December 21 and Part Three, Salvage is not opening until February 15. The total run of The Kentucky Cycle lasted about a month, so that was clearly a case where the parts followed each other more swiftly. I offer that, despite precedent, some people are going to be torn on this one. Probably the "one play" feeling will prevail, but it is an interesting question to ponder.